Featured Image: get ready for your first Bivi, part 4: simple camping food for your first overnight bivi

Simple Camping Food For Your First Bivvi Adventure

Get Ready For Your First Bivvi Camping Adventure, Part 4

Camping food doesn’t have to be complicated and for one night under the stars it’s easy to keep it simple, fun, filling and comforting!

You don’t need to worry about the balance of nutrients or the vast amount of calories your body needs on a multi-day trip. In fact, camping food for a one night bivvi adventure can be as easy as preparing a few meals just as you would at home.

This article is the third in a series of 4 articles for bivvi camping beginners:

  1. Part 1. Get Ready For Your First Bivi Bag Camping Adventure! (What You Need For A Good Night’s Sleep)
  2. Part 2. How To Find A Great Bivi Camping Spot Under The Stars
  3. Part 3. Bivvy Camping: 8 Ways To Stay Safe Overnight 
  4. Part 4. Simple Camping Food For Your First Bivvi Adventure (This one!)

Camping Food For A Beginner’s Night Out

How Many Meals Do You Need To Prepare?

This depends on a few variables, but it’s really not rocket science! Two meals will be the minimum you’ll need to carry with you: dinner for the evening plus breakfast for the following morning. However if you’re planning to start a walk earlier in the day you might need to carry lunch for the walk in and also the walk home the following day. But, however many meals you pack you’ll also need plenty of snacks, especially on harder terrain where you might use more calories.

What Are You Going To Cook On?

Simple Camping Food - Trangia cooking on a pebbly beach

I love my Mini Trangia!

Regular campers are bound to have a stove to cook on, whether it’s gas, spirit or gel based fuel.  The biggest consideration is weight of course: you don’t want to carry anything you don’t have to, but it doesn’t have to be titanium either. Groups might be able to share the weight between each other and solo hikers can cut down on the amount of fuel needed. As well as a stove you’ll need a pot with a lid, a mug and cutlery (a spork is ideal).

I use a spirit based (meths) Mini Trangia stove for one (in the photo above), which is lightweight aluminium and packs inside the pot with a lid that doubles as a frying pan. There’s also a small pot handle that fits inside. The Trangia is cheap to run and pretty bombproof, but it’s not the fastest boil-time out there. It all comes down to personal preference in the end, but if you’re out for your first bivvi you don’t need to buy a stove specifically for the purpose. And, if you don’t have a stove you can always borrow one or buy a cheap one to try out first.

The No-Cook Alternative

You don’t have to cook at all if you don’t want to, and you’ll certainly save weight that way. You might also save cash if you’d have to buy a cooking stove just for your trip!

Camping food should be tasty and filling, but it doesn’t have to be hot. However, you can still have a hot meal without a stove if you plan it right…

You can take a meal in a food flask, which often will often keep hot for 4 hours or so, or perhaps you could take a flask of coffee to warm you up in the evening.

Keep Your Camping Food Lightweight

Dried food is much lighter than ‘wet’ (fresh) food, but for one night fresh food is definitely on the menu. Whether you decide on a fresh or dried meal though, try and plan a quick cook ‘one pot’ meal, because it saves on weight, time, fuel and cleaning up!

Here are a few ideas:

Dry Food

  • Prepacked dried meals for outdoor cooking – just add boiling water. These are available from outdoor stores and they’re convenient, but not cheap
  • Prepacked dried supermarket meals that just need boiling water. These include things like pot noodles, spiced couscous, etc and work out much cheaper than those available from outdoor stores
  • Quick cook rice, couscous, noodles, etc that you can add flavouring or sauces to
  • Dried breakfast cereals. You can add powdered milk to cereals like muesli and porridge before you head out on your adventure, so you don’t need to carry fresh milk. But you can also buy prepared porridge if you find that easier. It’s usually sold as microwave porridge, but I generally find it easy enough to cook on a camping stove (just do it slowly!)
  • Powdered hot chocolate or tea bags are great pick-me-ups
  • Dried snacks could include dried fruit and nuts, rice cakes or crispbreads

Fresh Food Ideas

  • Fresh pasta is brilliant because it cooks in just a few minutes
  • Home made sauces are great to add to dried food – for example, a curry sauce for rice or couscous
  • Cheese tastes better when it’s warm and is great for toppings on main meals, or to make a sandwich for lunch. You can take along pre grated or sliced cheese for simplicity
  • Fresh fruit and veg always tastes good! Try and take fruit that doesn’t bruise easily, or pack it in a sandwich box
  • Wraps and pitta breads are great for making lunch because they’re less easily ‘squashed’ than bread or bread rolls
  • A small bottle of fresh juice or milk is great at breakfast
  • And for fresh snacks consider slices of cake, flapjack or, as mentioned above, a piece of fruit
Cooking up some mulled wine on a camping stove beside a river

A special Christmas camping meal! Fresh food to eat cold (stored in a sandwich box) and the piece de resistance? Warming up some mulled wine on my Mini Trangia!

My Favourite Camping Food For A Night’s Bivvi Adventure

Breakfast

For a simple overnight bivvi I love muesli with added powdered milk (or a little fresh milk, if the weather’s not too warm) and a small bottle of fresh juice, plus a piece of fruit. In fact, pretty much what’s in the photo below!

Simple camping food, including pasta, orange juice, mueseli, milk, hot chocolate sachet

An evening meal of fresh pasta with homemade pesto and grated cheese (wrapped in foil), a sachet of hot chocolate for bedtime, muesli, fresh milk, fresh orange juice and a banana for breakfast…yum!

Lunch

I really enjoy simple crispbreads with cheese and apple for lunch. Nothing fancy here!

Dinner

I’m vegetarian and one of my favourite meals is a bean mix that I make before I leave and warm through on my stove. I’ve even taken it in a food flask before now, without a stove. My friend gave me the bean recipe and I made up the rest, so it’s a recipe with no name! It’s basically a tortilla wrap filled with a bean sauce (very loosely based on Boston Baked Beans) topped with fried haloumi cheese. And it really hits the spot after a good walk!

The Recipe (Makes enough to fill a couple of wraps)

Cooking up beans and tomato sauce on the cliff tops (close up of beans and cooking stove)

Bean and tomato sauce warming up on my Trangia

Ingredients

  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Can of white beans (haricot, cannellini, butter beans – any beans you prefer really!)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of English mustard
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • Oil for frying (I use olive oil)
  • Herbs for flavouring (I like dry basil or a bay leaf)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Wholemeal wrap
  • A few thick slices haloumi per wrap
    (fry it at camp, not before you leave. However if you’re taking the beans in a food flask, dry-fry the haloumi slices and add them to the flask whilst they’re still hot. That way the cheese stays soft and warm inside.)

Method

Use a medium heat and a heavy bottomed saucepan:

  • Fry the onion and garlic in the oil until soft
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, stir
  • Add the sugar, herbs and mustard and stir for a few minutes until it reduces to a thick sauce
  • Drain the beans and add to the sauce stirring in well
  • Season to taste

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pack into a suitable container ready to go into your rucksack.

When you’re at your bivvi camp and ready to eat, dry fry your haloumi slices until they’re golden brown on both sides (it barely takes a minute), then set aside for a few minutes while you gently heat up the bean sauce.

To Serve

Pile a few dollops of bean sauce onto a wrap and top with a couple of slices of haloumi, fold up the wrap and tuck in!

Sausages!

How about adding some sliced sausages to the mix? I haven’t tried this yet, but it occurs to me that it would be a good way for meat-eaters to add some meat to their meal. Vegetarians could use a Quorn sausage to add more protein. Not sure how either of these options would taste with the haloumi though! If you try it out, let us know how it goes.

Snacks

Sticky homemade chocolate brownies! But I’m very partial to a more healthy bag of mixed fruit and nuts (which I can add to my morning cereal too). Dr Karg’s seedy crispbreads also go down very well – and the cheese flavoured ones don’t need any topping.

Storing Camping Food In Your Rucksack

We all find our own way of storing camping food, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep your snacks handy, ideally in side pockets so you don’t have to take your rucksack off for a munch!
  • It’s sensible to pack fresh food in a sandwich box to stop it getting damaged or bruised in your sack
  • Pack your food at the top of your rucksack so that it doesn’t get crushed
  • Store perishable food inside your rucksack where it will be cooler (consider taking a small freezer block in hot summers)
  • Make sure your food packages don’t get wet (use dry bags, reusable plastic bags or a rain cover for your rucksack)

 

There’s more information on the wild camping page, which applies to camping in a bivvy bag as much as it does to a tent:

 

And that’s it for this series of four articles (links to the others are at the top of the page). I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found inspiration and practical tips to give you the confidence to get outside for your first bivvi adventure! Why not share your tips and experiences below – let’s get everyone outside for a great night out!

Happy hiking

Stephie x

 

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